Apple stock falls as Jobs takes medical leave
Surprise leave comes as Apple prepares quarterly results
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has taken a leave of medical absence, leaving his company to be run by COO Tim Cook for the third time in seven years.
Although US markets are closed for Martin Luther King day, Apple shares on German markets fell by as much as 8.9 per cent, ending the day down 7.5 per cent at €242 by 16:45 in Frankfurt.
The Apple CEO, who has turned around the fortunes of the company during his fourteen year tenure, has taken two extended periods of medical leave before - once to overcome a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and again to recover from a liver transplant in 2009.
Apple is due to give quarterly results to investors tomorrow and is unlikely to be able to avoid the questions about Jobs' health which were already being asked today.
"This comes as a surprise; there was no hint of trouble at all," market analyst Exane BNP Parabas's Alexander Peterc told Bloomberg. "The lack of a more precise indication on the length of the leave suggests there are long-term issues with his health."
In an email released to Apple staff today, Jobs was keen to reassure that all would be well in his absence.
"I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011," said Jobs, adding: "I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy."